Did you know that Australia was the first country in the world to make a bike helmet mandatory while riding a bicycle? Until the 1990s, studies were conducted extensively to link wearing helmets with reduced casualty among bicyclists. Some established that wearing a helmet can reduce the chances of grave head injury by 70%. Following consultation, Victoria was the first state to pass a law in 1990. The rest of the States soon followed suit. Today, if you are caught cycling without a helmet in most jurisdictions, you could invite penalty units or a fine.
Choosing the appropriate helmet can seem to be just a matter of fit and preferences, but there are other details that you will need to consider before buying the proper helmet for you.
1. What is its intended use?
The kind of helmet you need to wear depends on the type of cycling you intend to do.
Commute: Helmets meant for city use are stylish and are usually designed to fit into the basket or handlebars of your cycle. They are generally made of ABS polymer that’s durable and can withstand impacts that you may experience if you fall on asbestos or concrete surfaces.
Road: If you cycle for long distances on the road, such as on tours, you will need a well ventilated, lightweight helmet. Look for helmets where the inner and outer layers are bonded together. Some helmets provide enhanced protection by incorporating a spider-web reinforcement structure in the polymer lining.
Mountain Biking: Like other helmets in function, helmets designed for mountain biking incorporate another crucial element. They have extended coverage at the back of your head to protect you if you fall backwards – an event that’s more likely to happen in mountain biking than any other type of cycling activity.
Once you determine what kind of helmet you want, you can check the following features.
2. Is the helmet designed well?
Bicycle helmets that adhere to the AS/NZS 2063:2008 standards are the only kind approved by the Australian Road Rules enforcers. The standards ensure that the helmet has been designed and constructed carefully. Such a helmet will perform as expected during an impact and ensure maximum safety for your fragile brain.
3. What materials have been used?
A helmet consists of two parts – the hard outer shell and the soft inner lining. The shell is usually made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), and the lining is usually made of polystyrene foam.
While purchasing the helmet, read reviews to ensure no one has complained about excessive flaking of the inner lining. If the material is unstable after prolonged use, it could compromise the helmet’s ability to protect you.
4. How well does it perform?
Try on the helmet and ensure that it sits snugly on your head. It should not slide down over your eyes while riding.
Have your friend knock you on the head with their knuckles (preferably while you’re wearing the helmet) to check if the helmet reduces the impact. You should ideally not feel any pain, neither should you be able to pinpoint where your friend hit you. A good helmet reduces and distributes the force of the impact.
Check that the straps are adjustable and do not stretch excessively. There’s no point in wearing a helmet that falls off your head when you topple off the bike.
A potential life-saver, helmets are intended to absorb the impact of a crash only once. The inner structure of any helmet involved in a collision will cease to perform well. Consider buying a new helmet if you have been in an accident. If not, experts recommend that you should replace your helmet every five years. Consult your bike accessories supplier to find a bike helmet ideally suited for you!